There are so many times I can think of that I’ve been thankful that I’ve grown up in the “Bible Belt.” I have had a community that is for the most part supportive (or at least tolerant if nothing else) of my religion and there are literally endless opportunities to get plugged in with a church. However, as grateful as I am for that, there are many ways I have been challenged here.
One of the biggest challenges I think the Bible Belt faces is the nature to keep to the confines of a close-knit inner circle without branching out to true discipleship. Now, I’m not at all saying that it’s bad to have a group of close Christian friends. But never having meaningful relationships or investing in others who need help finding Jesus is an apathetic lack of action toward our calling.
Thankfully, for me, I have been surrounded in my life by people who continuously hold me accountable and help me pursue Christ to the best of my ability. Even before I truly understood in my heart what it meant to be a Christ follower, I knew what it looked like by the people around me. Growing up in a community like this, though, can kind of blind us to the fact that many other people do not get the chance to be surrounded and supported in the same way.
One of our biggest callings as Christians is to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Imagine if nobody ever went out with the intention of discipleship. Odds are, someone has intentionally invested in you for this purpose – and now, as this scripture says, we are to obey what God has commanded us and go out ourselves and make disciples.
We have to break out of the comfort zone of our group of closest friends and seek out people who are lost. This is the only way we can expand the Kingdom of God. We are called to follow Christ’s example and lovingly encourage others toward faith. A vast majority of Jesus’ ministry during his time on Earth was spent with sinners of all sorts. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and following in his footsteps means that we should value the same people.
We must build a community that seeks out those in need and cherishes them as much as they cherish their close Christian friends. When we value others and show them true, genuine love, Christ’s light will be apparent through our actions and help to grow his kingdom in ways we can’t even imagine!
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